MBP 13" (no discrete gpu) powerful enough for AVCHD and RAW editing?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by dubcat, Sep 22, 2009.

  1. dubcat macrumors newbie

    Sep 15, 2009
    Hi -

    I've had conflicting answers on this at the Apple Store today so I'd like to ask the question on here again. I would like to use a Mac for work and consequently would prefer the greater portability of the 13" model (plus it fits in my Tumi bag and the 15" doesn't).

    However, at home the computer will be used for editing of AVCHD hi def movies which will be burnt to blu-ray. I will also use the computer for editing of 15mp RAW files from my dSLR camera. The computer will be attached to a 24" dell monitor so screen real estate is not an issue.

    I want to emphasise that the video and photo editing are _not_ work related and are for my personal pleasure only (hobby).

    Is the 13" up to the job? The lack of a discrete gpu is my main concern. One of the guys at the genius bar told me that without the discrete gpu Aperture 2 can really start to slow down and its quite annoying.

  2. tempusfugit macrumors 65816

    May 21, 2009
    I've been editing a lot of HD video lately on my 13, and it works ok. The real downfall is the 5400 rpm drive in my opinion. Sometimes it gets slow or beachballs but it hasn't done it enough to truly inhibit my activities.

    the 13 WILL get it done and will edit HD video. I use premiere pro cs4 on dual screens and everything is fine, like I said sometimes I wish I had a better performing drive.

    think about an SSD if you do go with the 13.
  3. dubcat thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 15, 2009
    That is awesome feedback - thanks very much. I won't be going for the SSD I don't think but I will get a 7200rpm drive so maybe that will help a tiny bit. As long as it is usable I am happy.

    I assume the AVCHD is actually more stressful for the system than RAW editing - is that right?

  4. mbburn macrumors newbie

    Sep 22, 2009
    I think a 7200 rpm drive and 4GB RAM would probably do you just fine. I'm using a 13" MBP for minor editing, and squeaking along with stock equipment(getting upgraded at Christmas with above improvements). I do get some slowdown in Aperture, but nothing terrible. I have a friend using CS4 on a early '09 white MacBook for her professional photo business with no problems at all.
  5. Eddyisgreat macrumors 601

    Oct 24, 2007
    Hobbyist? Go with the 13" then. You'll probably be frustrated with the speed (for editing) but...you won't have any paying clients to worry about :D
  6. dubcat thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 15, 2009
    getting frustrated is something i want to avoid - it's a hobby and you are meant to enjoy those :) So are you saying that the activities i mention ARE frustratingly slow on a mac without a discrete gpu? I know it's subjective.
  7. Azathoth macrumors 6502a

    Sep 16, 2009
    Does any 2D sw (RAW file stuff and vid editting) use the 3D acceleration capabilities of a discrete gfx card?

    Ive not heard of gfx card making a difference for Adobe Lightroom, for example...h

  8. electroshock macrumors 6502a


    Sep 7, 2009
    Most software doesn't (LR included), but Apple's Aperture does.

    AVCHD is mostly hard on the CPU side due to the CPU-intensive transcoding involved during the importing. Not so much on the GPU side. For hobbyist work with photos, I imagine that even without a dedicated GPU, editing should still be acceptable.

    Definitely agree a 7200 RPM hard drive is the way to go here.
  9. dubcat thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 15, 2009
    this is a good point. I was wondering whether the gpu actually helped with anything in aperture or final cut.. the only reason i started to think it might is because the genius bar guy in the store said it did. I can't see how - i thought they were cpu intensive tasks.
  10. electroshock macrumors 6502a


    Sep 7, 2009
    Aperture is specifically written to take advantage of the GPU by offloading some of the number-crunching calculations from the CPU whenever available. Think of the GPU as being a pretty speedy CPU (normally used only for graphics) that can be used for calculations other than solely for graphics. Not all types of computation would be suitable for offloading-to-GPU use, but photo editing is a great example where this is suitable.

    I'm guessing LR may not be using the GPU acceleration because of its multiplatform foundations. But Aperture definitely does take advantage of the GPU if one is present because of its use of a technology called Core Image:


    Regarding Final Cut video editing tools, think only Motion and Color and some FC plugins/filters uses GPU acceleration. FC itself doesn't use it (yet?), probably because of its Carbon ancestry.
  11. spacepower7 macrumors 68000

    May 6, 2004
    As far as I understand, none of the Adobe apps take advantage of the Mac's GPU to the same extent that Aperture and Motion do.

    I recommend that when you edit video, you have the video on an external firewire hard drive. Firewire 800 and an external firewire drive (3.5" drive) will give much faster transfer rates than an internal (5400 or 7200) laptop drive.

    Back in the "old days" we would never dream of using the OS drive to playback video or audio while editing. You'll usually get much better performance from an external drive that is not trying to play back video and run the OS at the same time.
  12. hi-there macrumors member

    Mar 8, 2007
    Hi Dub,

    I can not comment on video side of it but I work with Unibody MacBook Pro 15" 2.8Ghz (4GB ram, 7,200rpm HD) hooked up to Apple Cinema Display 30" every day. Sometimes I forget to switch back to Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT (performance mode) and worked all day on Nvidia GeForce 9400M (better battery life mode) on Adobe Lightroom 2.0 and Photoshop CS3 and I did not notice the difference in performance.

    From time to time, I wondered if I could get away with MacBook Pro 13" as I do travel and do take my laptop with me.

    Hope that helps!
  13. RemarkabLee macrumors 6502a

    Nov 14, 2007
    All the above is true as software stands TODAY, but what about the near future once Apple and third parties release updated software to take advantage of the new core technologies available in Snow Leopard, i.e. OpenCL?

    Surely then a discreet GPU makes more sense then, especially for working with video... The more powerful system you buy today will buy you less frustration down the line.
  14. dubcat thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 15, 2009
    yup i understand about buying a more powerful system now.. but it is at the cost of portability and having to ditch my beloved tumi bag :) I just wish they had made the 13" with a discrete gpu option - then i would not be having this headache...

Share This Page